Supernavigators: Exploring the Wonders of How Animals Find Their Way (Hardcover)

Supernavigators: Exploring the Wonders of How Animals Find Their Way By David Barrie Cover Image

Supernavigators: Exploring the Wonders of How Animals Find Their Way (Hardcover)


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“Just astonishing . . . Our natural navigational capacities are no match for those of the supernavigators in this eye-opening book.”—Frans de Waal, The New York Times Book Review

Publisher’s note: Supernavigators was published in the UK under the title Incredible Journeys.

Animals plainly know where they’re going, but how they get there has remained surprisingly mysterious—until now.

In Supernavigators, award-winning author David Barrie catches us up on the cutting-edge science. Here are astounding animals of every stripe: Dung beetles that steer by the light of the Milky Way. Ants and bees that rely on patterns of light invisible to humans. Sea turtles and moths that find their way using Earth’s magnetic field. Humpback whales that swim thousands of miles while holding a rocksteady course. Birds that can locate their nests on a tiny island after crisscrossing an ocean.

The age of viewing animals as unthinking drones is over. As Supernavigators makes clear, a stunning array of species command senses and skills—and arguably, types of intelligence—beyond our own. Weaving together interviews with leading animal behaviorists and the groundbreaking discoveries of Nobel Prize–winning scientists, David Barrie reveals these wonders in a whole new light.
David Barrie, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation, has sailed all over the world and made many long passages. After studying experimental psychology and philosophy at Oxford University, he served in the British Diplomatic Service, then worked in the arts and as a law-reform campaigner. His book Sextant was shortlisted for the Mountbatten Literary Award and won the Royal Institute of Navigation’s Certificate of Achievement. The great-great-nephew of J. M. Barrie, he is married with two daughters. Learn more at
Product Details ISBN: 9781615195374
ISBN-10: 1615195378
Publisher: The Experiment
Publication Date: May 28th, 2019
Pages: 320
Language: English
A 2019 Nautilus Gold Award Winner, Animals & Nature

A Sunday Times Best Nature Book of the Year

"We meet some animals that use sense of smell, others that navigate based on polarized light, others on magnetism. It seems that there are as many ways to find your way as there are species [Barrie writes] about.

— Ari Shapiro, All Things Considered

[Barrie] is passionate about navigation and describes in delightful detail the myriad ways in which animals get around. . . . The number of animals traveling long distance, from insects to sea turtles, and from eels to whales, is just astonishing, as are the many ways in which they find their way. . . . Whenever our smartphone lacks satellite service, we still need to tap into our natural navigational capacities even if they are no match for those of the supernavigators in this eye-opening book.
— Frans de Waal, The New York Times Book Review

A must-read for anyone fascinated with the wonders of nature.
— Publishers Weekly, starred review

Well written and accessible, this book will lead readers to conclude that animals are amazing, as is researchers’ ingenuity.
— Choice

Barrie’s passion makes him an engaging guide, flitting from fact to anecdote like a butterfly hunting for nectar.
— New Scientist

In this exhilarating popular study, David Barrie reveals the roots of navigational prowess.
— Nature

David Barrie is an engaging explorer, enthusiastically celebrating the skill of creatures as fascinating as they are enterprising.
— Sunday Express

Many . . . exceptional navigators . . . are humble and unsung, and learning about them is one of the pleasures of Supernavigators.

— The New Yorker

Barrie tells astounding tales of how various animals navigate the world and the equally intriguing stories of the scientists who study them.
— Science

Very enjoyable. Barrie is a charming guide as he leads us through the science to the wonder.
— Tristan Gooley, author of The Natural Navigator

Supernavigators is filled with marvels. . . . Understanding the wonders of animal navigation may help us appreciate the small and large miracles that surround us.

— Foreword Reviews, starred review

[Barrie’s] book about remarkable feats of migration by animals explores the front lines of research into how they do it.
— The Scientist

Readers interested in natural history or biology will find this stimulating.
— Library Journal

Only a sailor could relate the navigational powers of both humans and animals with such appreciation, excitement, and precision. Thank you, David Barrie, for taking us along on these riveting voyages by sail and wing, hoof and flipper. We arrive surprised, delighted, and awed.
— Sy Montgomery, author of How to Be a Good Creature

Animal migration is all around us, as visible and as invisible as magnetism and gravity and as scientific, magical, and wondrous. David Barrie has done a superb job of elevating the invisible and shining light onto what most of us only glimpse from time to time. Like all migrations, this book itself is a homecoming of sorts.
— Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words and What Animals Think and Feel